Saturday, February 14, 2009

GM-UAW | If It Ain't Fixed, Don't Break It!

DETROIT - NOVEMBER 20:  George <span class=Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Interesting dynamics at work in the world today. Consider the implications of these stories:

UAW walks away from GM talks

Negotiators for the United Auto Workers walked out of concession talks with General Motors Corp. Friday night in a dispute over payments to a union-administered retiree health care fund, a person briefed on the talks said Saturday.

The breakdown comes at a critical time as GM races against a Tuesday deadline to submit a plan to the government showing how it can become viable.

The Detroit-based auto giant is living on $9.4 billion in government loans, and the Treasury Department must approve its viability plan for GM to get $4 billion more. Chrysler LLC, which has received $4 billion in government loans and wants an additional $3 billion, faces the same deadline.

At GM, UAW negotiators walked away because the company made demands that were "detrimental to retirees and the ability to provide health care," according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

GM considering Chapter 11 filing, new company

General Motors Corp, nearing a Tuesday deadline to present a viability plan to the U.S. government, is considering as one option a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing that would create a new company, the Wall Street Journal said in its Saturday edition.

"One plan includes a Chapter 11 filing that would assemble all of GM's viable assets, including some U.S. brands and international operations, into a new company," the newspaper said. "The undesirable assets would be liquidated or sold under protection of a bankruptcy court. Contracts with bondholders, unions, dealers and suppliers would also be reworked."

Obama Reaffirms Support of EFCA

The Detroit Free Press and the Philadelphia Inquirer were among the papers that got a chance to talk to Obama about the challenges facing our economy, and Obama once again offered his support for the Employee Free Choice Act.

According to the Inquirer, Obama discounted the corporate community's argument that workers' freedom to form unions and bargain would be bad for the economy. The president said that, indeed, workers' freedom to bargain was good for the long-term health of the economy.

I don't buy the argument that providing workers with collective bargaining rights somehow weakens the economy or worsens the business environment. If you've got workers who have decent pay and benefits, they're also customers for business.

What was once the biggest company and biggest union in America aren't getting it done right.

What makes us think it will work any better for others than it is for them? Maybe we need to be thinking in entirely new ways from both sides of the fence!

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